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The Independent National Electoral Commission may be forced to use serving members of the National Youth Service Corps to monitor political parties’ direct primaries across the country if President Muhammadu Buhari, signs the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
This is because of the large number of personnel that will be needed to monitor the direct primaries across the 8,809 awards in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, confirmed this in a chat with Punch on Sunday.
Okoye said it would be premature to speculate since Buhari had not yet signed the bill. He also said certain factors would be considered.
He admitted that the staff requirements for primaries would “change if the President assents to the bill.”
The INEC spokesman said some political parties might consider conducting primaries at the ward level, while others might use the local governments or senatorial districts as the criteria for primaries
Responding to a question, Okoye said, “Some parties may adopt the 8,809 registration areas (wards) of the commission for their primaries. Some may use the 774 LGAs for their primaries. Some may cluster their primaries around the senatorial districts.
“Some may use the state capitals and have a differential period when people from a particular local government area can vote. These things will be set out in the guidelines that will be designed by the parties and filed with the commission at least 14 days before the conduct of the primaries.
“When the bill is signed into law, the commission will meet and take a position on how to proceed with each strand and segment of the process. We may use our staff members for some of the primaries. We may use lecturers of federal tertiary institutions for some. We may use staff members of federal agencies and commissions, and we may use corps members. It depends on the tract designed and submitted by the parties.”
The commission, according to its 2019 project plan, hired about 2.7 million ad hoc officials for the general elections, many of whom were corps members.
The document, showed that N630m was spent on monitoring political party congresses and primaries in 2018. About N104.8m was spent on monitoring governorship, senatorial, state constituency and federal constituency primaries, while the presidential primary cost N27.8m.
The National Assembly had last week passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which makes it compulsory for all political parties to conduct their primaries using the direct method.
The Peoples Democratic Party and the governors of the All Progressives Congress have rejected the provision for direct primaries, while the National Assembly remains adamant.
The bill is expected to be transmitted to Buhari this week for assent upon his return from South Africa. However, governors have begun making moves to ensure that he does not sign it.
But the House of Representatives and some senators have threatened to veto the President if he fails to sign the bill within 30 days.
This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.